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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 5/74 -

the apartment with his Queen Gulnare She presented him to the queen her mother, to the king her brother, and to her other relations; who instantly threw themselves at his feet, with their faces to the ground. The king of Persia ran to them, and lifting them up, embraced them one after another. After they were all seated, King Saleh began: "Sir;" said he to the king of Persia, "we are at a loss for words to express our joy, to think that the queen my sister, in her disgrace, should have the happiness of falling under the protection of so powerful a monarch. We can assure you, she is not unworthy of the high rank to which you have been pleased to raise her; and we have always had so much love and tenderness for her, that we could never think or parting with her to any of the puissant princes of the sea, who have often demanded her in marriage before she came of age. Heaven has reserved her for you, and we have no better way of testifying our gratitude for the favour it has done her, than beseeching it to grant your majesty a long and happy life with her, and to crown you with prosperity and satisfaction.

"Certainly," replied the king of Persia, "heaven reserved her for me, as you observe. I love her with so tender and ardent a passion, that I am satisfied I never loved any woman till I saw her. I cannot sufficiently thank either the queen her mother or you, prince, or your whole family, for the generosity with which you have consented to receive me into an alliance so glorious to me as yours." So saying he invited them to take part of the collation, and he and his queen sat down with them. After the collation, the king of Persia conversed with them till it was very late; and when they thought it convenient to retire, he waited upon them himself to the several apartments he had ordered to be prepared for them.

The king of Persia treated his illustrious guests with continual feasts; in which he omitted nothing that might shew his grandeur and magnificence, and insensibly prevailed with them to stay with him till the queen was brought to bed. When the time of her lying-in drew near, he gave particular orders that nothing should be wanting proper for such an occasion. At length she was brought to bed of a son, to the great joy of the queen her mother, who assisted at the labour, and presented him to the king.

The king of Persia received this present with a joy easier to be imagined than expressed. The young prince being of a beautiful countenance, he thought no name so proper for him as that of Beder, which in the Arabian language signifies the Full Moon. To return thanks to heaven, he was very liberal in his alms to the poor, caused the prison doors to be set open, and gave all his slaves of both sexes their liberty. He distributed vast sums among the ministers and holy men of his religion. He also gave large donations to his courtiers, besides a considerable sum that was thrown amongst the people; and by proclamation, ordered rejoicings to be kept for several days through the whole city.

One day, after the queen was recovered, as the king of Persia, Gulnare, the queen her mother, King Saleh her brother, and the princesses their relations, were discoursing together in her majesty's bed-chamber, the nurse came in with the young prince Beder in her arms. King Saleh as soon as he saw him, ran to embrace him, and taking him in his arms, kissed and caressed him with the greatest demonstrations of tenderness. He took several turns with him about the room, dancing and tossing him about, when all of a sudden, through a transport of joy, the window being open, he sprung out, and plunged with him into the sea.

The king of Persia, who expected no such sight, believing he should either see the prince his son no more, or else that he should see him drowned, was overwhelmed in affliction. "Sir," said queen Gulnare (with a quiet and undisturbed countenance, the better to comfort him), "let your majesty fear nothing; the young prince is my son as well as yours, and I do not love him less than yourself. You see I am not alarmed; neither in truth ought I to be. He runs no risk, and you will soon see the king his uncle appear with him again, and bring him back safe. Although he be born of your blood, he is equally of mine, and will have the same advantage his uncle and I possess, of living equally in the sea, and upon the land." The queen his mother and the princesses his relations affirmed the same thing; yet all they said had no effect on the king, who could not recover from his alarm till he again saw prince Beder.

The sea at length became troubled, when immediately King Saleh arose with the young prince in his arms, and holding him up in the air, reentered at the window from which he had leaped. The king of Persia being overjoyed to see Prince Beder again, and astonished that he was as calm as before he lost sight of him; King Saleh said, "Sir, was not your majesty in alarm, when you first saw me plunge into the sea with the prince my nephew?" "Alas prince," answered the king of Persia, "I cannot express my concern. I thought him lost from that very moment, and you now restore life to me by bringing him again." "I thought as much," replied King Saleh, "though you had not the least reason to apprehend danger; for before I plunged into the sea, I pronounced over him certain mysterious words, which were engraved on the seal of the great Solomon the son of David. We practise the like in relation to all those children that are born in the regions at the bottom of the sea, by virtue whereof they receive the same privileges as we have over those people who inhabit the earth. From what your majesty has observed, you may easily see what advantage your son Prince Beder has acquired by his birth on the part of his mother Gulnare my sister: for as long as he lives, and as often as he pleases, he will be at liberty to plunge into the sea, and traverse the vast empires it contains in its bosom."

Having so spoken, King Saleh, who had restored Prince Beder to his nurse's arms, opened a box he had fetched from his palace in the little time he had disappeared, which was filled with three hundred diamonds, as large as pigeons' eggs; a like number of rubies of extraordinary size; as many emerald wands, each half a foot long, and thirty strings or necklaces of pearl consisting each of ten feet. "Sir," said he to the king of Persia, presenting him with this box, "when I was first summoned by the queen my sister, I knew not what part of the earth she was in, or that she had the honour to be married to so great a monarch. This made us come without a present. As we cannot express how much we have been obliged to your majesty, I beg you to accept this small token of gratitude in acknowledgment of the many favours you have been pleased to shew her, wherein we take equal interest."

It is impossible to express how greatly the king of Persia was surprised at the sight of so much riches, enclosed in so little compass. "What! prince," cried he, "do you call so inestimable a present a small token of your gratitude, when you never have been indebted to me? I declare once more you have never been in the least obliged to me, neither the queen your mother nor you. I esteem myself but too happy in the consent you have given to the alliance I have contracted with you. Madam," continued he, turning to Gulnare, "the king your brother has put me into the greatest confusion; and I would beg of him to permit me to refuse his present, were I not afraid of disobliging him: do you therefore endeavour to obtain his leave that I may be excused accepting it."

"Sir," replied King Saleh, "I am not at all surprised that your majesty thinks this present so extraordinary. I know you are not accustomed upon earth to see precious stones of this quality and number: but if you knew, as I do, the mines whence these jewels were taken, and that it is in my power to form a treasure greater than those of all the kings of the earth, you would wonder we should have the boldness to make you so small a present. I beseech you therefore not to regard its trifling value, but consider the sincere friendship which obliges us to offer it to you, and not give us the mortification of refusing it." These engaging expressions obliged the king of Persia to accept the present, for which he returned many thanks both to King Saleh and the queen his mother.

A few days after, King Saleh gave the king of Persia to understand, that the queen his mother, the princesses his relations, and himself, could have no greater pleasure than to spend their whole lives at his court; but that having been so long absent from their own kingdom, where their presence was absolutely necessary, they begged of him to excuse them if they took leave of him and Queen Gulnare. The king of Persia assured them, he was sorry it was not in his power to return their visit in their own dominions; but added, "As I am persuaded you will not forget Gulnare, I hope I shall have the honour to see you again more than once."

Many tears were shed on both sides upon their separation. King Saleh departed first; but the queen his mother and the princesses his relations were obliged to force themselves from the embraces of Gulnare, who could not prevail with herself to let them go. This royal company were no sooner out of sight, than the king of Persia said to Gulnare, "Madam, I should have looked upon the person who had pretended to pass those upon me for true wonders, of which I myself have been eye-witness from the time I have been honoured with your illustrious family at my court, as one who would have abused my credulity. But I cannot refuse to believe my senses; and shall remember them while I live, and never cease to bless heaven for directing you to me, in preference to any other prince."

Beder was brought up and educated in the palace under the care of the king and queen of Persia, who both saw him grow and increase in beauty to their great satisfaction. He gave them yet greater pleasure as he advanced in years, by his continual sprightliness, his agreeable manners, and the justness and vivacity of his wit; and this satisfaction was the more sensible, because King Saleh his uncle, the queen his grandmother, and the princesses his relations, came from time to time to partake of it.

He was easily taught to read and write, and was instructed with the same facility in all the sciences that became a prince of his rank.

When he arrived at the age of fifteen, he acquitted himself in all his exercises with infinitely better address and grace than his masters. He was withal wise and prudent. The king, who had almost from his cradle discovered in him virtues so necessary for a monarch, and who moreover began to perceive the infirmities of old age coming upon himself every day, would not stay till death gave him possession of his throne, but purposed to resign it to him. He had no great difficulty to make his council consent to this arrangement: and the people heard his resolution with so much the more joy, as they conceived Prince Beder worthy to govern them. In a word, as the king had not for a long time appeared in public, they had the opportunity of observing that he had not that disdainful, proud, and distant air, which most princes have, who look upon all below them with scorn and contempt. They saw, on the contrary, that he treated all mankind

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 5/74

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